The North American Post
Takami Page 10
[Editor’s Note]: All names are rendered in the English First, Middle, Last name order.
A Tearful Farewell to the Newspaper
Compared to the last ten years, Takami Hibiya’s life as a reporter before the Pacific War may have been the time he felt he most alive in his life. I attempted to interview him many times to compile the immigrant history, “Hokubei Hyakunen Sakura (Hundred-year Old Cherry Blossoms in North America)” (revised edition). He told me only the bare minimum about himself. It took a long time to get him to open up. Nevertheless, I wonder if he harbored a deep sentimentality for his life as a reporter for The North American Times (Hokubei Jiji). This is the way he spoke about the outbreak of the war between Japan and the U.S.
“The North American Times president Sumio Arima had previously been told by Yoshimi Satō, the consul of Seattle, ‘If Japan and the U.S. go to war, about 3,000 Japanese Americans will be arrested.’ I heard the same from Mr. Arima. He was arrested by the FBI along with the editorial writer Keitarō Kawajiri. Our rival newspaper The Great Northern Daily News (Taihoku Nippō) reporter Heiroku Ōishi (real name, Masaru Akahori), who continued his activist campaign in Los Angeles after WWII, was also arrested.
Pearl Harbor was on a Sunday. I went into work with Terumitsu Kanō and we discussed publishing an extra edition, but we decided to hold off. The next day, the eighth, we asked Jimmy Yoshitoku Sakamoto of the The Japanese-American Courier, the English newspaper on the other side of The North American Times published weekly under the Tōyō Trading Company, to consult with the Attorney General of Washington state. He responded by saying, ‘If there’s no anti-American sentiment there’s no problem with publishing it,’ so we immediately made arrangements to publish it. The Dōmei News Agency (Dōmei Tsūshin) was being broadcast by morse code, but out of concern for publishing news from the enemy side after the outbreak of the Pacific War, we put together the extra edition without revealing the source by combining it with local news and radio broadcasts. Out of all the Japanese newspapers in the U.S., the only one published on December 8th was The North American Times. But because president Arima and Mr. Kawajiri weren’t there I had to take over.”
I had heard a similar story from Mr. Kanō when he was still alive. The reticent Mr. Hibiya spoke about it with considerable eloquence.
“For a month before the eviction of us Japanese-Americans began, our frozen funds were temporarily released. We put our affairs at The North American Times in order. We sold the large company safe for $80, and machines like the rotary press and lino-type for $2500. There had been talk of keeping the Japanese literature printing type, but we were renting the land and the building from Great Northern Railway company, so we had to vacate the building. It meant there wasn’t any storage space for the lead printing type. We had no idea what the situation would be like going forward, so we had to dispose of the type. I believe we sold them as scrap for 1¢, 6¢ and 7¢. I remember it brought tears to my eyes. Even the Ford I bought myself for $200 increased in value during the war and I sold it for $250. I liquidated my house and entered the Puyallup Assembly Center having done everything I could. After I finished putting everything in order at The North American Times, I deposited the remaining funds in Mr. Arima’s frozen account. We stored the newspaper files in the basement of Mr. Yamaguchi’s North Coast Trading Company on Maynard Avenue and with my cousin Ryohei Kitamoto on Bembridge Island. When we came back after the war the mice had been at them for their nests and they were completely ruined.”
The last president of The North American Times was Arima Sumio, but his predecessor Sumiyoshi went back to Japan with his wife Tamaki before the outbreak of the Pacific War. Consequently, Arima Sumio was the one taken in by the FBI. The ordinary reporter Mr. Hibiya avoided arrest and was sent to the Minidoka camp in Hunt, Idaho from Puyallup.
the Japanese newspaper—
news arrives like migrant ships
 “Hokubei Hyakunen Sakura (Hundred-year Old Cherry Blossoms in North America)” is a compilation of interviews and personal accounts of Japanese Americans living in the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and Alaska. The social history recalls the lives of Issei living and working in these regions prior to 1969 when it was published. Kazuo Itō, the author of this newspaper article series, is the author.